Voice search continues to be a hot topic in SEO. As per comScore’s predictions, 50% of all searches will be conducted via voice functionality by 2020. About 30% will be completed without even looking at a screen.
By 2017, 13% of all households in the United States owned a virtual home assistant – like Amazon Echo or Google Home – but this figure is projected to increase quickly over the next few years. Don’t be fooled by the margin on these predictions, however – it might seem reasonable to think that voice search isn’t a major player yet, but it’s already a reality.
Nearly 22% of the world’s internet users make use of a digital assistant at least once per month, and there are already over one billion voice searches per month, based on data from January 2018.
While it’s easy to understand what voice search is, it’s less apparent how people choose to use it, and what they use it for. Continue reading to learn how you can optimise your website for the imminent voice search revolution.
This is why how people use voice search is so important: because users don’t talk the way they type. It’s vital to understand that although we use voice search because it’s faster than text, we use longer queries. Rather than the clipped, truncated keywords of text search, users speak in much more conversational search terms.
Optimising your site for focused, targeted long-tail keywords will help you compete in the voice search arena. This increases your chances of appearing in Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA) featured snippet, making the strategy great for ranking toward text searches too.
Semantic search is also an aspect that differs from text searches. As search terms become more natural, engines have to work harder to place the terms in context, in order to deliver the most relevant content. This increases the importance of providing tangential information in optimized content – it is becoming more important to predict the user experience than it is to format for the benefit of search engines.
The next best thing you can do for voice search optimisation is to take advantage of localisation. When a user requests information on a local business, Google will default to using data from Google My Business listings (GMB), making them important to pay proper attention to. Fleshing out GMB profiles as much as possible serves to increase your chances of answering voice search questions as directly as possible.
It’s also noteworthy that voice searches for information on local areas are more likely than voice searches for general information. Localised and geo-tagged content is already starting to be caught in the tide of this shift.
When aiming for featured snippets, your content structure needs to be deliberate – Google prefers succinct answers to questions that are surfaced. Utilising the power of headings can also help search engines identify that you are answering a question.
Read more on how to optimise for featured snippets.
People use voice search because it’s faster than typing out a query. Users want a rapid response, so you can optimise for voice searches by ensuring that your website loads quickly and features helpful information up-front that voice searches will be comfortable reciting to users.
This means writing content naturally in a conversational tone. As quickly as voice search is developing, virtual assistants still struggle deciphering information graphs and bullet-point lists. Ultimately, voice search engines prefer grammatically sound sentences that can be readily recited for users.
These days, everyone has a smartphone or mobile device that allows them to use voice search however they like. Whether that’s a 6-year-old asking why the sky is blue, or a 22-year-old that needs a quick spaghetti recipe refresher, everyone can ask search engines anything. So when it comes to creating content, it pays to write in a language that’s accessible to the average.
The average voice search result is written at a 9th grade level, which is around Year 10 or Year 11 in New Zealand. And no, that doesn’t mean you need to “dumb down” your content, you just need to make sure that it’s as accessible to as many people as possible.
The next time you write content, make sure that :
Despite it’s surging traffic, voice search is still a largely un-mapped frontier. Keeping an eye on the trends is the only way to predict where it might go next. This means taking advantage of Google Analytics, as it follows that fully comprehending voice search means fully comprehending mobile search.